Thursday, June 30, 2011

Classic...

Today is the 75th anniversary of the publication of Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. It sold over one million copies in the first six months of publication and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937. There is an excellent retrospective by NPR's Susan Stamberg on Morning Edition today.

About Gone With The Wind:

It is the spring of 1861. Scarlett O’Hara, a pretty Southern belle, lives on Tara, a large plantation in Georgia. She concerns herself only with her numerous suitors and her desire to marry Ashley Wilkes. One day she hears that Ashley is engaged to Melanie Hamilton, his frail, plain cousin from Atlanta. At a barbecue at the Wilkes plantation the next day, Scarlett confesses her feelings to Ashley. He tells her that he does love her but that he is marrying Melanie because she is similar to him, whereas he and Scarlett are very different. Scarlett slaps Ashley and he leaves the room. Suddenly Scarlett realizes that she is not alone. Rhett Butler, a scandalous but dashing adventurer, has been watching the whole scene, and he compliments Scarlett on being unladylike.

The Civil War begins. Charles Hamilton, Melanie’s timid, dull brother, proposes to Scarlett. She spitefully agrees to marry him, hoping to hurt Ashley. Over the course of two months, Scarlett and Charles marry, Charles joins the army and dies of the measles, and Scarlett learns that she is pregnant. After Scarlett gives birth to a son, Wade, she becomes bored and unhappy. She makes a long trip to Atlanta to stay with Melanie and Melanie’s aunt, Pittypat. The busy city agrees with Scarlett’s temperament, and she begins to see a great deal of Rhett. Rhett infuriates Scarlett with his bluntness and mockery, but he also encourages her to flout the severely restrictive social requirements for mourning Southern widows. As the war progresses, food and clothing run scarce in Atlanta. Scarlett and Melanie fear for Ashley’s safety. After the bloody battle of Gettysburg, Ashley is captured and sent to prison, and the Yankee army begins bearing down on Atlanta. Scarlett desperately wants to return home to Tara, but she has promised Ashley she will stay with the pregnant Melanie, who could give birth at any time.

On the night the Yankees capture Atlanta and set it afire, Melanie gives birth to her son, Beau. Rhett helps Scarlett and Melanie escape the Yankees, escorting them through the burning streets of the city, but he abandons them outside Atlanta so he can join the Confederate Army. Scarlett drives the cart all night and day through a dangerous forest full of deserters and soldiers, at last reaching Tara. She arrives to find that her mother, Ellen, is dead; her father, Gerald, has lost his mind; and the Yankee army has looted the plantation, leaving no food or cotton. Scavenging for subsistence, a furious Scarlett vows never to go hungry again.

Scarlett takes charge of rebuilding Tara. She murders a Yankee thief and puts out a fire set by a spiteful Yankee soldier. At last the war ends, word comes that Ashley is free and on his way home, and a stream of returning soldiers begins pouring through Tara. One such soldier, a one-legged homeless Confederate named Will Benteen, stays on and helps Scarlett with the plantation. One day, Will brings terrible news: Jonas Wilkerson, a former employee at Tara and current government official, has raised the taxes on Tara, hoping to drive the O’Haras out so that he might buy the plantation. Distraught, Scarlett hurries to Atlanta to seduce Rhett Butler so that he will give her the three hundred dollars she needs for taxes. Rhett has emerged from the war a fabulously wealthy man, dripping with earnings from his blockade-running operation and from food speculation. However, Rhett is in a Yankee jail and cannot help Scarlett. Scarlett sees her sister’s beau, Frank Kennedy, who now owns a general store, and forges a plan. Determined to save Tara, she betrays her sister and marries Frank, pays the taxes on Tara, and devotes herself to making Frank’s business more profitable.

After Rhett blackmails his way out of prison, he lends Scarlett enough money to buy a sawmill. To the displeasure of Atlanta society, Scarlett becomes a shrewd businesswoman. Gerald dies, and Scarlett returns to Tara for the funeral. There, she persuades Ashley and Melanie to move to Atlanta and accept a share in her lumber business. Shortly thereafter, Scarlett gives birth to Frank’s child, Ella Lorena.

A free black man and his white male companion attack Scarlett on her way home from the sawmill one day. That night, the Ku Klux Klan avenges the attack on Scarlett, and Frank ends up dead. Rhett proposes to Scarlett and she quickly accepts. After a long, luxurious honeymoon in New Orleans, Scarlett and Rhett return to Atlanta, where Scarlett builds a garish mansion and socializes with wealthy Yankees. Scarlett becomes pregnant again and has another child, Bonnie Blue Butler. Rhett dotes on the girl and begins a successful campaign to win back the good graces of the prominent Atlanta citizens in order to keep Bonnie from being an outcast like Scarlett.

Scarlett and Rhett’s marriage begins happily, but Rhett becomes increasingly bitter and indifferent toward her. Scarlett’s feelings for Ashley have diminished into a warm, sympathetic friendship, but Ashley’s jealous sister, India, finds them in a friendly embrace and spreads the rumor that they are having an affair. To Scarlett’s surprise, Melanie takes Scarlett’s side and refuses to believe the rumors.

After Bonnie is killed in a horse-riding accident, Rhett nearly loses his mind, and his marriage with Scarlett worsens. Not long after the funeral, Melanie has a miscarriage and falls very ill. Distraught, Scarlett hurries to see her. Melanie makes Scarlett promise to look after Ashley and Beau. Scarlett realizes that she loves and depends on Melanie and that Ashley has been only a fantasy for her. She concludes that she truly loves Rhett. After Melanie dies, Scarlett hurries to tell Rhett of her revelation. Rhett, however, says that he has lost his love for Scarlett, and he leaves her. Grief-stricken and alone, Scarlett makes up her mind to go back to Tara to recover her strength in the comforting arms of her childhood nurse and slave, Mammy, and to think of a way to win Rhett back.

Just Started...

Cheryl picked up a pile of new releases at the library. I started The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse last night, and it's very good so far. Check it out.

From the author's website:

In the winter of 1928, still seeking some kind of resolution to the horrors of World War I, Freddie is traveling through the beautiful but forbidding French Pyrenees. During a snowstorm, his car spins off the mountain road. Dazed, he stumbles through the woods, emerging in a tiny village, where he finds an inn to wait out the blizzard. There he meets Fabrissa, a lovely young woman also mourning a lost generation.

Over the course of one night, Fabrissa and Freddie share their stories. By the time dawn breaks, Freddie will have unearthed a tragic, centuries-old mystery, and discovered his own role in the life of this remote town.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Heard about a Book...

I've read several good reviews about A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion by Ron Hanson (The NY Times, NPR, Oprah).

From Goodreads.com:

Based on a real case whose lurid details scandalized Americans in 1927 and sold millions of newspapers, acclaimed novelist Ron Hansen’s latest work is a tour de force of erotic tension and looming violence. Trapped in a loveless marriage, Ruth Snyder is a voluptuous, reckless, and altogether irresistible woman who wishes not only to escape her husband but that he die—and the sooner the better. No less miserable in his own tedious marriage is Judd Gray, a dapper corset-and-brassiere salesman who travels the Northeast peddling his wares. He meets Ruth in a Manhattan diner, and soon they are conducting a white-hot affair involving hotel rooms, secret letters, clandestine travels, and above all, Ruth’s increasing insistence that Judd kill her husband. Could he do it? Would he? What follows is a thrilling exposition of a murder plan, a police investigation, the lovers’ attempt to escape prosecution, and a final reckoning for both of them that lays bare the horror and sorrow of what they have done. Dazzlingly well-written and artfully constructed, this impossible-to-put-down story marks the return of an American master known for his elegant and vivid novels that cut cleanly to the essence of the human heart, always and at once mysterious and filled with desire.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Heard about a Book...

I heard about a new young adult trilogy—The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth. The first story was released in May, Divergent. It might be the next Hunger Games...

From the publisher's website:

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Just Started...

Upon recommendation by Rainy Day Books and Pat & Steve, I have just started People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. So far, so good (see July 19th).

Friday, June 17, 2011

Heard about a Book...

Another summer read mentioned on Talk of the Nation is the classic Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum, originally published in 1899.

About the book:

In 1895, Slocum set sail in his sloop, the Spray, on a voyage that was to take 3 years & earn him a place in history as the first man to navigate the globe singlehandedly. Here is Slocum's own story, told with the salt resilience of an old sailor.

From the Joshua Slocum Society International:

Nova Scotia born, with family roots in New England, Captain Slocum commanded some of the finest tall ships that ever sailed the seas. On April 24, 1895, at the age of 51, he departed Boston in his tiny sloop Spray and sailed around the world single-handed, a passage of 46,000 miles, returning to Newport, Rhode Island on June 27, 1898. This historic achievement made him the patron saint of small-boat voyagers, navigators and adventurers all over the world.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Heard about a Book...

Talk of the Nation today had a call-in segment on summer reads. The guest book critic Laura Miller agreed with a caller that Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran was a great mystery novel. AND according to the the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, its the first book of a future series. Check it out.

About the novel:

Claire DeWitt is not your average private investigator. She has brilliant deductive skills and is an ace at discovering evidence. But Claire also uses her dreams, omens, and mind-expanding herbs to help her solve mysteries, and relies on Détection — the only book published by the late, great, and mysterious French detective Jacques Silette.

The tattooed, pot-smoking Claire has just arrived in post-Katrina New Orleans, the city she’s avoided since her mentor, Silette’s student Constance Darling, was murdered there. Claire is investigating the disappearance of Vic Willing, a prosecutor known for winning convictions in a homicide- plagued city. Has an angry criminal enacted revenge on Vic? Or did he use the storm as a means to disappear? Claire follows the clues, finding old friends and making new enemies — foremost among them Andray Fairview, a young gang member who just might hold the key to the mystery.

Littered with memories of Claire’s years as a girl detective in 1980s Brooklyn,
Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead is a knockout start to a bracingly original new series.

Heard about a Book...

For music lovers, Out of the Vinyl Deeps, a collection of articles by Ellen Willis, edited by Nona Willis Aronowitz, looks very interesting. Willis was the pop music critic for The New Yorker in the late 60s and 70s. According to The New York Times Sunday Book Review, "...this selection of 59 articles, primarily from the late ’60s to mid-’70s, offers a fresh look at that era’s well-documented music."

From Goodreads.com:

In 1968, the New Yorker hired Ellen Willis as its first popular music critic. Her column, Rock, Etc., ran for seven years and established Willis as a leader in cultural commentary and a pioneer in the nascent and otherwise male-dominated field of rock criticism. As a writer for a magazine with a circulation of nearly half a million, Willis was also the country’s most widely read rock critic. With a voice at once sharp, thoughtful, and ecstatic, she covered a wide range of artists—Bob Dylan, The Who, Van Morrison, Elvis Presley, David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Joni Mitchell, the Velvet Underground, Sam and Dave, Bruce Springsteen, and Stevie Wonder—assessing their albums and performances not only on their originality, musicianship, and cultural impact but also in terms of how they made her feel.

Because Willis stopped writing about music in the early 1980s—when, she felt, rock ’n’ roll had lost its political edge—her significant contribution to the history and reception of rock music has been overshadowed by contemporary music critics like Robert Christgau, Lester Bangs, and Dave Marsh. Out of the Vinyl Deeps collects for the first time Willis’s Rock, Etc. columns and her other writings about popular music from this period (including liner notes for works by Lou Reed and Janis Joplin) and reasserts her rightful place in rock music criticism.

More than simply setting the record straight, Out of the Vinyl Deeps reintroduces Willis’s singular approach and style—her use of music to comment on broader social and political issues, critical acuity, vivid prose, against-the-grain opinions, and distinctly female (and feminist) perspective—to a new generation of readers. Featuring essays by the New Yorker’s current popular music critic, Sasha Frere-Jones, and cultural critics Daphne Carr and Evie Nagy, this volume also provides a lively and still relevant account of rock music during, arguably, its most innovative period.

Heard about a Book...

I heard an interview on NPR with Jamil Ahmad, the author of Wandering Falcon, a collection of stories about the tribal regions of Pakistan. I'm not sure it's my cup of tea, but he was a compelling interview.

About Wandering Falcon:

The boy known as Tor Baz—the black falcon —wanders between tribes. He meets men who fight under different flags, and women who risk everything if they break their society’s code of honour. Where has he come from, and where will destiny take him?

Set in the decades before the rise of the Taliban, Jamil Ahmad’s stunning debut takes us to the essence of human life in the forbidden areas where the borders of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan meet. Today the ‘tribal areas’ are often spoken about as a remote region, a hotbed of conspiracies, drone attacks and conflict. In The Wandering Falcon, this highly traditional, honour-bound culture is revealed from the inside for the first time.

With rare tenderness and perception, Jamil Ahmad describes a world of custom and cruelty, of love and gentleness, of hardship and survival; a fragile, unforgiving world that is changing as modern forces make themselves known. With the fate-defying story of Tor Baz, he has written an unforgettable novel of insight, compassion and timeless wisdom.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Heard about a Book...

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan was just positively reviewed in The New York Times Sunday Book Review and looks like it might be a good summer read. Check it out.

From the author's website:

For the Kellehers, Maine is a place where children run in packs, showers are taken outdoors, and old Irish songs are sung around a piano at night. Their beachfront property, won on a barroom bet after the war, sits on three acres of sand and pine nestled between stretches of rocky coast, with one tree bearing the initials “A.H.” At the cottage, built by Kelleher hands, cocktail hour follows morning mass, nosy grandchildren snoop in drawers, and decades-old grudges simmer beneath the surface.

As three generations of Kelleher women descend on the property one summer, each brings her own hopes and fears. Maggie is thirty-two and pregnant, waiting for the perfect moment to tell her imperfect boyfriend the news; Ann Marie, a Kelleher by marriage, is channeling her domestic frustration into a dollhouse obsession and an ill-advised crush; Kathleen, the black sheep, never wanted to set foot in the cottage again; and Alice, the matriarch at the center of it all, would trade every floorboard for a chance to undo the events of one night, long ago.

By turns wickedly funny and achingly sad, Maine unveils the sibling rivalry, alcoholism, social climbing, and Catholic guilt at the center of one family, along with the abiding, often irrational love that keeps them coming back, every summer, to Maine and to each other.

Heard about a Book...

PatB highly recommends a poet I have never read, Billy Collins. Pat has read several collections of his poems including Ballistics and Nine Horses. Collins is the author of eight collections of poetry. A distinguished professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York, he was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003 and Poet Laureate of New York State from 2004 to 2006. Here is a sample of his work:

I Ask You

What scene would I want to be enveloped in
more than this one,
an ordinary night at the kitchen table,
floral wallpaper pressing in,
white cabinets full of glass,
the telephone silent,
a pen tilted back in my hand?

It gives me time to think
about all that is going on outside—
leaves gathering in corners,
lichen greening the high grey rocks,
while over the dunes the world sails on,
huge, ocean-going, history bubbling in its wake.

But beyond this table
there is nothing that I need,
not even a job that would allow me to row to work,
or a coffee-colored Aston Martin DB4
with cracked green leather seats.

No, it's all here,
the clear ovals of a glass of water,
a small crate of oranges, a book on Stalin,
not to mention the odd snarling fish
in a frame on the wall,
and the way these three candles—
each a different height—
are singing in perfect harmony.

So forgive me
if I lower my head now and listen
to the short bass candle as he takes a solo
while my heart
thrums under my shirt—
frog at the edge of a pond—
and my thoughts fly off to a province
made of one enormous sky
and about a million empty branches.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Heard about a Book...

On Here & Now today I heard Jay Asher, the author of the bestselling young adult story, Thirteen Reasons Why. The story centers around a teen suicide, so parents may want to choose to read this story with their kids.

From the author's website:

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list. Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

Reading List...

From a new contributor, PatB has several recent books he has read in the last year or so that make a great summer reading list. Check them out (alphabetical by author):

The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
The Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig
Man Walks Into A Room by Nicole Krauss
Resistance by Anita Shreve

About
The Brief History of the Dead:

The City is inhabited by those who have departed Earth but are still remembered by the living. They will reside in this afterlife until they are completely forgotten. But the City is shrinking, and the residents clearing out. Some of the holdouts, like Luka Sims, who produces the City's only newspaper, are wondering what exactly is going on. Others, like Coleman Kinzler, believe it is the beginning of the end. Meanwhile, Laura Byrd is trapped in an Antarctic research station, her supplies are running low, her radio finds only static, and the power is failing. With little choice, Laura sets out across the ice to look for help, but time is running out. Kevin Brockmeier alternates these two storylines to create a lyrical and haunting story about love, loss and the power of memory.

About The Dead Fathers Club:

Eleven-year-old Philip Noble has a big problem. His dad, who was killed in a car accident, appears as a bloodstained ghost at his own funeral and introduces Philip to the Dead Fathers Club. The club, whose members were all murdered, gathers outside the Castle and Falcon, the local pub that Philip’s family owns and lives above. Philip learns that the person responsible for his father’s death is his Uncle Alan. When Philip realizes that Uncle Alan has designs on his mom and the family pub, Philip decides that something must be done. But avenging his father's death is a much bigger job than he anticipated, especially when he is caught up by the usual distractions of childhood—a pretty girl, wayward friends, school bullies, and his own self-doubt.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Head about a Book...

In an article on the Wall Street Journal web site about the difference between men vs. women readers, there was a father's day recommendation—I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb. This story also comes recommended by Paul.

From Goodreads.com:

What if you were a 40-year-old housepainter, horrifically abused, emotionally unavailable, and your identical twin was a paranoid schizophrenic who believed in public self-mutilation? You'd either be a guest on the Jerry Springer Show or Dominick Birdsey, the antihero, narrator, and bad-juju magnet of I Know This Much Is True. Somewhere in the recesses of this hefty 912-page tome lurks an honest, moving account of one man's search, denial, and acceptance of self. This is no easy feat considering his grandfather seemed to take parenting tips from the SS and his grandmother was a possible teenage murderess, his stepfather a latent sadist, and his brother, Thomas, a politically motivated psychopath. Not one to break with tradition, Dominick continues the dysfunctional legacy with rape, a failed marriage, a nervous breakdown, SIDS, a car crash, and a racist conspiracy against a coworker--just to name a few.

A stretch, both literally and figuratively from his Oprah-christened bestseller, She's Come Undone, Lamb's book ventures outside the confines of the tightly bound beach read and marathons through a detailed, neatly cataloged account of every familial travesty and personal failure one can endure. At its heart lies Freud's "return of the repressed": the more we try to deny who we are, the more we become what we fear. Lamb takes Freud's psychological abstraction to the realm of everyday living, packing his novel with tender, believable dialogue and thoughtful observation.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Heard about a Book...

Father of the Rain by Lily King, just out in paperwork, is getting lots of praise (Washington Post, The New York Times, Oprah).

From the author's website:

In her most ambitious novel to date, critically acclaimed author Lily King sets her sharply insightful family drama in an upper-middle-class East Coast suburb where she traces a complex and volatile father-daughter relationship from the 1970s to the present day.

When eleven-year-old Daley Amory’s mother leaves her father, Daley is thrust into a chaotic adult world of competition, indulgence, and manipulation. Unable to place her allegiance, she gently toes the thickening line between her parents’ incompatible worlds: the increasingly liberal, socially committed realm of her mother, and the conservative, liquor-soaked life of her father. But without her mother there to keep him in line, Daley’s father’s basest impulses and quick rage are unleashed, and Daley finds herself having to choose her own survival over the father she still deeply loves.

As she grows into adulthood, Daley retreats from the New England country-club culture that nourished her father’s fears and addictions, and attempts to live outside of his influence. Until he hits rock bottom. Faced with the chance to free her father from sixty years worth of dependency, Daley must decide whether repairing their badly broken relationship is worth the risk of losing not only her professional dreams, but the love of her life, Jonathan, who represents so much of what Daley’s father claims to hate, and who has given her so much of what he could never provide.

Reading List...

It's that time of year...Summer Reads! Here's a list of June releases I found from some top-selling authors--surely one of these books will end up on the beach with you! (alphabetical by author):

One Summer by David Baldacci
Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares
Against All Enemies by Tom Clancy
The Kingdom by Clive Cussler
Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver (see June 2nd)
Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich (a Stephanie Plum novel)
Folly Beach by Dorothea Benton Frank
Theodore Boone: The Abduction by John Grisham
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Now You See Her by James Patterson

About
State of Wonder:

Award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Ann Patchett returns with a provocative and assured novel of morality and miracles, science and sacrifice set in the Amazon rainforest. Infusing the narrative with the same ingenuity and emotional urgency that pervaded her acclaimed previous novels
Bel Canto, Taft, Run, The Magician’s Assistant, and The Patron Saint of Liars, Patchett delivers an enthrallingly innovative tale of aspiration, exploration, and attachment in State of Wonder—a gripping adventure story and a profound look at the difficult choices we make in the name of discovery and love.

Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist with a Minnesota pharmaceutical company, is sent to Brazil to track down her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, who seems to have all but disappeared in the Amazon while working on what is destined to be an extremely valuable new drug, the development of which has already cost the company a fortune. Nothing about Marina's assignment is easy: not only does no one know where Dr. Swenson is, but the last person who was sent to find her, Marina's research partner Anders Eckman, died before he could complete his mission. Plagued by trepidation, Marina embarks on an odyssey into the insect-infested jungle in hopes of finding her former mentor as well as answers to several troubling questions about her friend's death, the state of her company's future, and her own past.

Once found, Dr. Swenson, now in her seventies, is as ruthless and uncompromising as she ever was back in the days of Grand Rounds at Johns Hopkins. With a combination of science and subterfuge, she dominates her research team and the natives she is studying with the force of an imperial ruler. But while she is as threatening as anything the jungle has to offer, the greatest sacrifices to be made are the ones Dr. Swenson asks of herself, and will ultimately ask of Marina, who finds she may still be unable to live up to her teacher's expectations.

In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, and a neighboring tribe of cannibals,
State of Wonder is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss. It is a tale that leads the reader into the very heart of darkness, and then shows us what lies on the other side.

About Folly Beach:

Home is the place that knows us best. . . .

A woman returns to the past to find her future in this enchanting new tale of loss, acceptance, family, and love.

With its sandy beaches and bohemian charms, surfers and suits alike consider Folly Beach to be one of South Carolina's most historic and romantic spots. It is also the land of Cate Cooper's childhood, the place where all the ghosts of her past roam freely. Cate never thought she'd wind up in this tiny cottage named the Porgy House on this breathtakingly lovely strip of coast. But circumstances have changed, thanks to her newly dead husband whose financial—and emotional—bull and mendacity have left Cate homeless, broke, and unmoored.

Yet Folly Beach holds more than just memories. Once upon a time another woman found unexpected bliss and comfort within its welcoming arms. An artist, writer, and colleague of the revered George Gershwin, Dorothy Heyward enjoyed the greatest moments of her life at Folly with her beloved husband, DuBose. And though the Heywards are long gone, their passion and spirit lingers in every mango sunset and gentle ocean breeze.

And for Cate, Folly, too, holds the promise of unexpected fulfillment when she is forced to look at her life and the zany characters that are her family anew. To her surprise, she will discover that you can go home again. Folly Beach doesn't just hold the girl she once was . . . it also holds the promise of the woman she's always wanted—and is finally ready—to become.

Heard about a Book...

I read a Library Thing interview with Caitlin Shetterly, author of Made for You and Me: Going West, Going Broke, Finding Home. She sounds very interesting.

From Goodreads.com:

Newlywed Caitlin Shetterly and her husband, Dan Davis, two hardworking freelancers, began their lives together in 2008 by pursuing a lifelong, shared dream of leaving Maine and going West. At first, California was the land of plenty. Quickly, though, the recession landed, and a surprise pregnancy that was also surprisingly rough made Caitlin too sick to work. By December, every job Dan had lined up had been canceled, and though he pounded the pavement, from shop to shop and from bar to bar, he could not find any work at all.
By March 2009, every cent of the couple's savings had been spent.

So, a year after they'd set out with big plans, Caitlin and Dan packed up again, this time with a baby on board, to make their way home to move in with Caitlin's mother. As they drove, Caitlin blogged about their situation and created audio diaries for NPR's Weekend Edition and received an astounding response. From all across the country, listeners offered help, opening their hearts and their homes.

And when the young family arrived back in rural Maine and squeezed into Caitlin's mother's small saltbox house, Caitlin learned that the bonds of family run deeper than any tug to roam, and that, with love, she and Dan could hold their dreams in sight, wherever they were.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Just Started...

At a garage sale, Cheryl picked up a paperback by a romance author that she had never read, Ciji Ware's A Cottage by the Sea. It looks like she has written six stories since 1989; they appear to be historical romance.

From the author's website:

A sweeping, romantic tale of modern day Britain colliding with the bawdy, eighteenth century world of a bold English heiress whose love story has echoed down through time. To Blythe Barton Stowe, a cunning cottage on the wild coast of Cornwall in the land of her forebears sounded like the perfect escape from the pain and humiliation of events in far off Hollywood that had ended her marriage, her career, and all but destroyed her self-esteem. But soon she seems to be reliving a centuries-old tragedy that once beset her namesake ancestress. Her landlord, the handsome owner of the shabby manor house on the hill, appears equally entwined in her destiny as they unearth one shocking family secret after another. Before long, Blythe concludes that her intriguing neighbor is more than just an impecunious British gentleman bent on saving his ancestral home, and she seriously begins to question whether the unbridled attraction she feels for the honorable Lucas Teague is strong enough to transcend time and place…

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Reading List...

Esquire.com (the magazine's website) has a feature called, The 75 Books Every Man Should Read, "an unranked, incomplete, utterly biased list of the greatest works of literature ever published"—it's a sideshow of the covers of these 75 books. I'm not going to list them all here (mostly because I'm lazy), but here are a few I've never heard of, or I've heard of and concur are great books (alphabetical by author):

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison
Plainsong by Kent Haruf (see February 9th)
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (see January 25th)
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien (see April 29th)
A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (see February 11th)
Sophie's Choice by William Styron
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

About
A Sport and a Pastime:

A beautiful, lyrical tale of an ill-fated love affair set against the backdrop of small French towns, this stunning novel is observed through the eyes and imagination of a narrator who, in the story of Dean and Anne-Marie s relationship, captures some essential aspect of what it means to be truly alive.

About
Legends of the Fall:

The publication of this magnificent trilogy of short novels — Legends Of The Fall, Revenge and The Man Who Gave Up His Name — confirmed Jim Harrison's reputation as one of the finest American writers of his generation. These absorbing novellas explore the theme of revenge and the actions to which people resort when their lives or goals are threatened, adding up to an extraordinary vision of the twentieth-century man.

About
Slaughterhouse-Five:

Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic
Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut's) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.

Don't let the ease of reading fool you—Vonnegut's isn't a conventional, or simple, novel. He writes, "There are almost no characters in this story, and almost no dramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick, and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters..."
Slaughterhouse-Five (taken from the name of the building where the POWs were held) is not only Vonnegut's most powerful book, it is as important as any written since 1945. Like Catch-22, it fashions the author's experiences in the Second World War into an eloquent and deeply funny plea against butchery in the service of authority.

Slaughterhouse-Five boasts the same imagination, humanity, and gleeful appreciation of the absurd found in Vonnegut's other works, but the book's basis in rock-hard, tragic fact gives it a unique poignancy—and humor.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Heard about a Book...

When I read this recommendation for Six Easy Pieces by Richard P. Feynman, I thought, I might just like this book: Six Easy Pieces is billed as “essential physics explained by its most brilliant teacher,” and is marketed as physics for beginners, though it is not really physics for beginners, but extremely advanced physics explained conversationally, so that students with a working knowledge of the sciences will be intrigued and inspired by the majestic complexity of the discipline, even if they can’t grasp it yet.

From Goodreads.com:

Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher is a publishing first. This set couples a book containing the six easiest chapters from Richard P. Feynman’s landmark work, Lectures on Physics—specifically designed for the general, non-scientist reader—with the actual recordings of the late, great physicist delivering the lectures on which the chapters are based. Nobel Laureate Feynman gave these lectures just once, to a group of Caltech undergraduates in 1961 and 1962, and these newly released recordings allow you to experience one of the Twentieth Century’s greatest minds—as if you were right there in the classroom.

Reading List...

Bailey received several books for her birthday (alphabetical by author):

Bitter End by Jennifer Brown
Shine by Lauren Myracle
The Chaos (Numbers) by Rachel Ward
The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds by Paul Zindel

About
Bitter End from the author's website:

When Alex falls for the charming new boy at school, Cole—a handsome, funny sports star who adores her--she can't believe she's finally found her soul mate...someone who truly understands her and loves her for who she really is.

At first, Alex is blissfully happy. Sure, Cole seems a little jealous of her relationship with her close friend Zack, but what guy would want his girlfriend spending all her time with another boy? As the months pass, though, Alex can no longer ignore Cole's small put-downs, pinches, and increasingly violent threats. As Alex struggles to come to terms with the sweet boyfriend she fell in love with and the boyfriend whose "love" she no longer recognizes, she is forced to choose—between her "true love" and herself.

Heard about a Book...

On The Diane Rehm Show today I heard an interview with Rosamund Lupton, author of her debut novel Sister. It sounds like a good book, check it out.

From the author's website:

Nothing can break the bond between sisters …

When Beatrice gets a frantic call in the middle of Sunday lunch to say that her younger sister, Tess, is missing, she boards the first flight home to London. But as she learns about the circumstances surrounding her sister's disappearance, she is stunned to discover how little she actually knows of her sister's life – and unprepared for the terrifying truths she must now face.

The police, Beatrice's fiancé and even their mother accept they have lost Tess but Beatrice refuses to give up on her. So she embarks on a dangerous journey to discover the truth, no matter the cost.

Just Finished...

Jim just finished Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman by Jon Krakauer, the story of the man who turned down a lucrative NFL career to join the Army and was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan. Krakauer is a great writer—the first book I read of his was Into Thin Air where he went on an Mt. Everest expedition—I read it in a weekend, couldn't put it down.

From Goodreads.com:

Like the men whose epic stories Jon Krakauer has told in his previous bestsellers, Pat Tillman was an irrepressible individualist and iconoclast. In May 2002, Tillman walked away from his $3.6 million NFL contract to enlist in the United States Army. He was deeply troubled by 9/11, and he felt a strong moral obligation to join the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Two years later, he died on a desolate hillside in southeastern Afghanistan.

Though obvious to most of the two dozen soldiers on the scene that a ranger in Tillman’s own platoon had fired the fatal shots, the Army aggressively maneuvered to keep this information from Tillman’s wife, other family members, and the American public for five weeks following his death. During this time, President Bush repeatedly invoked Tillman’s name to promote his administration’s foreign policy. Long after Tillman’s nationally televised memorial service, the Army grudgingly notified his closest relatives that he had “probably” been killed by friendly fire while it continued to dissemble about the details of his death and who was responsible.

In Where Men Win Glory, Jon Krakauer draws on Tillman’s journals and letters, interviews with his wife and friends, conversations with the soldiers who served alongside him, and extensive research on the ground in Afghanistan to render an intricate mosaic of this driven, complex, and uncommonly compelling figure as well as the definitive account of the events and actions that led to his death. Before he enlisted in the army, Tillman was familiar to sports aficionados as an undersized, overachieving Arizona Cardinals safety whose virtuosity in the defensive backfield was spellbinding. With his shoulder-length hair, outspoken views, and boundless intellectual curiosity, Tillman was considered a maverick. America was fascinated when he traded the bright lights and riches of the NFL for boot camp and a buzz cut. Sent first to Iraq—a war he would openly declare was “illegal as hell”—and eventually to Afghanistan, Tillman was driven by complicated, emotionally charged, sometimes contradictory notions of duty, honor, justice, patriotism, and masculine pride, and he was determined to serve his entire three-year commitment. But on April 22, 2004, his life would end in a barrage of bullets fired by his fellow soldiers.

Krakauer chronicles Tillman’s riveting, tragic odyssey in engrossing detail highlighting his remarkable character and personality while closely examining the murky, heartbreaking circumstances of his death. Infused with the power and authenticity readers have come to expect from Krakauer’s storytelling, Where Men Win Glory exposes shattering truths about men and war.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Heard about a Book...

For Bailey's birthday, she will receive when it is released (July 12, 2011) the final installment in Maggie Stiefvater's Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy, Forever (the first two stories are Shiver, see February 11th, and Linger see July 21st). Bailey has enjoyed the first two books, and can't wait for the third just in time to read it at the beach!

From Goodreads.com:

In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. In Linger, they fought to be together. Now, in Forever, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Heard about a Book...

There is a new authorized James Bond novel, Carte Blanche by Jeffery Deaver, a continuation of the most famous secret agent in the world created by Ian Fleming.

From the author's website:

"The face of war is changing. The other side doesn't play by the rules much anymore. There's thinking, in some circles, that we need to play by a different set of rules too..."

James Bond, in his early thirties and already a veteran of the Afghan War, has been recruited to a new organization. Conceived in the post-9/11 world, it operates independent of MI5, MI6 and the Ministry of Defense, its very existence deniable. Its aim: To protect the Realm, by any means necessary.

A Night Action alert calls James Bond away from dinner with a beautiful woman. Headquarters has decrypted an electronic whisper about an attack scheduled for later in the week: casualties estimated in the thousands, British interests adversely affected.

And Agent 007 has been given carte blanche.

Heard about a Book...

Once again I've learn about another acclaimed series that I've never heard of—the Walt Longmire mysteries by Craig Johnson, a mystery series about a modern Wyoming sheriff. His latest novel is Hell Is Empty. The series includes these stories (in order of release):

The Cold Dish
Death Without Company
Kindness Goes Unpunished
Another Man's Moccasins
The Dark Horse
Junkyard Dogs
Hell Is Empty

About
Hell Is Empty:

Well-read and world-weary, Sheriff Walt Longmire has been maintaining order in Wyoming's Absaroka County for more than thirty years, but in this riveting seventh outing, he is pushed to his limits. Raynaud Shade, an adopted Crow Indian, has just confessed to murdering a boy ten years ago and burying him deep within the Big Horn Mountains. After transporting Shade and a group of other convicted murderers through a snowstorm, Walt is informed by the FBI that the body is buried in his jurisdiction-and the victim's name is White Buffalo. Guided only by Indian mysticism and a battered paperback of Dante's Inferno, Walt pursues Shade and his fellow escapees into the icy hell of the Cloud Peak Wilderness Area, cheating death to ensure that justice-both civil and spiritual-is served.